Under the pretense of protecting religious liberty, Texas Senate Bill 17 would allow any professional licensed by the state of Texas to deny service to anyone on the basis of religious belief. This means not just doctors, lawyers and accountants but plumbers, electricians and teachers.
SB 17 was filed by Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) earlier this month and co-authored by Senators Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) and Brian Birdwell (R-Fort Worth). Shame on the three of them.
Refusing service is primarily a means of demonstrating disapproval, all neatly cloaked in scripture. Most service denials have no logical connection to religious prohibitions.
If enacted, this bill effectively nullifies (preempts) some municipal protections. Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano and San Antonio prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. Several school districts have also adopted nondiscrimination policies in employment and student welfare. Those protections would no longer apply to licensed professionals.
Senator Perry has the audacity to claim that the bill is not about discrimination against the LGBTQ community but a way for those who feel the government is attempting to “punish people of faith” to defend themselves. I guess that I should not be amazed that the sanctimonious state senator is so comfortable lying through his teeth. Apparently there exists an LGBTQ waiver to prohibitions of “bearing false witness.”